- Associated Press - Thursday, March 6, 2014
Indictment in missing Tenn. nursing student case

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - A man was charged Wednesday with kidnapping and murdering a nursing student who was last seen outside her West Tennessee home nearly three years ago, investigators said.

Holly Bobo was 20 when she disappeared on April 13, 2011. Her brother told authorities he saw a man in hunting clothes leading her into the woods around the family home near Parsons, about 100 miles northeast of Memphis.

Last week, investigators in the case searched the home of 29-year-old Zachary Adams and he was arrested in an unrelated aggravated assault case on Friday. Tennessee Bureau of Investigation director Mark Gwyn on Wednesday announced the grand jury indictment against Adams in Bobo’s disappearance.

Gwyn would not say what kind of evidence was found during the search or whether authorities have recovered any remains. Adams’ home in the Holladay community is about 15 miles from Bobo’s home where she was last seen.



Adams was in custody with no bond set. Gwyn did not rule out the possibility of other arrests in the case and said the investigation in continuing.

Gwyn said someone from the TBI spoke with the Bobo family before the indictment was announced at a news conference.

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Guns-in-parks proposal clears 1st House panel

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - A proposal to strip local government control over whether to allow people with handgun carry permits to be armed at parks, playgrounds and sports fields has cleared its first legislative hurdle in the House.

The House Civil Justice Subcommittee advanced the measure sponsored by Republican Rep. Tilman Goins of Morristown on a voice vote. The companion bill passed the full Senate on a 26-7 vote last month.

The measure has advanced despite the misgivings of Republican Gov. Bill Haslam, who as Knoxville mayor in 2009 supported a city council vote that kept in place a ban on handguns in some of the city’s parks.

Audience members who wore red shirts to signal their opposition to the bill booed and hissed after the panel advanced the measure to the full committee.

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School voucher bill advances in Tenn. House

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - A proposal to create a school voucher program in Tennessee is advancing in the House despite concerns from some lawmakers that the legislation would be detrimental to public schools.

The measure proposed by Gov. Bill Haslam passed the House Budget Subcommittee 7-6 on Wednesday.

It is slightly different than an original measure brought by the Republican governor that limited the vouchers to students from low-income families attending the bottom 5 percent of failing schools. The measure that passed would expand eligibility to the bottom 10 percent of failing schools if slots are left.

House Speaker Beth Harwell cast the tie-breaking vote to move the legislation.

“Ultimately, I think everyone’s goal here is the same and that is to help children that are in chronically low-performing schools have an opportunity for something better,” said the Nashville Republican.

Haslam withdrew his initial legislation last year when Senate Republicans sought to expand to a larger number of children. The Senate version of the voucher proposal was to be taken up its Education Committee later Wednesday.

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Coal firm to pay record fine for water pollution

WASHINGTON (AP) - One of the nation’s largest coal producers will pay a $27.5 million fine and spend $200 million to reduce illegal toxic discharges into hundreds of waterways across five Appalachian states, according to a proposed settlement Wednesday.

The agreement includes the largest fine ever for violations of water pollution permits, with many of the violations reported by the company to state environmental officials. The Associated Press obtained details about the settlement before it was filed Wednesday in federal court in West Virginia.

The discharges occurred at mines and coal processing plants in Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia.

“This is the largest one, period,” Cynthia Giles, head of the Environmental Protection Agency’s enforcement office, told the AP. “It’s the biggest case for permit violations for numbers of violations and size of the penalty, which reflects the seriousness of violations.”

The government says that between 2006 and 2013, Alpha Natural Resources Inc. and dozens of subsidiaries violated water pollution limits in state-issued permits more than 6,000 times. They discharged heavy metals and other contaminants harmful to fish and other wildlife from nearly 800 outfall pipes directly into rivers, streams and tributaries, according to the government. There is no evidence that any of the violations contaminated drinking water, EPA officials said.

Monitoring records attached to the complaint show that in some cases, the releases exceeded permit limits by as much as 35 times.

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